Burke: Leafs TV, Canucks spat 'absurd'

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 4:35 PM ET

VANCOUVER -- Brian Burke can not understand what all the fuss is about.

From the Vancouver Canucks organization. From the Vancouver media. And from the Vancouver fans.

Earlier this year, Canucks general manager Mike Gillis tried to get Burke punished for a statement he made during a recently released Leafs TV documentary shot at the 2009 June entry draft.

NO PENALTY

Burke, addressing his war room, suggests the Canucks offered Kevin Bieksa, Alex Burrows and their No. 1 pick in order to land the No. 2 overall selection from Tampa Bay, allegedly to snap up defenceman Victor Hedman.

The NHL did not penalize the Maple Leafs for those actions, but told the parties involved to keep quiet about the issue.

Burke tried. He really did.

But, while addressing a handful of reporters minutes after speaking at a local Board of Trade luncheon here yesterday, he could not help himself.

Why, he wondered, did the Canucks not come to him in the first place with their concerns about the Leafs TV piece instead of going to the media?

"The league has asked us to let this go and I would accept that, except to say it's absurd," Burke said.

Absurd?

"You're talking about footage that was shot while I was talking to my scouting staff and I passed along a rumour and said it was a rumour," he explained.

"I don't know how that got through the editing process. I saw the rough cut and I missed that. I said to the league right away, if the Vancouver Canucks had called and said there was something up on your website ..."

But, Burke said, he did not hear from the Canucks.

"Instead of Mike (Gillis) calling me, he went and talked to a bunch of reporters and then they started e-mailing me, saying what about this stuff on Leafs TV. I went and looked at it, called the league and said it's a legitimate beef and I'll take it down immediately."

Whether these comments violated the NHL's gag order on the subject remains to be seen. Burke doesn't think so. The league, meanwhile, isn't saying.

"It will be handled internally," NHL vice-president Bill Daly told Sun Media last night in an e-mail.

While the Leafs suffered no repercussions from the Leafs TV story, the league earlier this month fined the team $25,000 US for comments coach Ron Wilson made on the Fan 590 back on June 30 about the Leafs' potential interest in the Sedin twins, who were still under contract with the Canucks until the following day.

Surely there must be bitter feelings between the two teams for all this. Bad blood perhaps?

"Ask them. All the fuss over this has come out of Vancouver. Not a word has come out of Toronto," Burke said.

He's right about the fuss part. Out here, this story has mushroomed into Burke-Gate

When the Leafs president dismissed the tampering charges in a published report yesterday, the local talk shows were in an uproar. Burke was supposed to keep his yap shut, they claimed, yet he obviously had ignored the league's wishes.

The big question in Vancouver now has become: Will Burke and Gillis clear the air at the Leafs-Canucks game tonight?

"I always go and seek out the (visiting) GM," Burke said. "I don't know what Mike Gillis does."

We do know this much: If Burke, the former Canucks GM, came to Vancouver looking to take the spotlight off his winless hockey team by putting it on himself, consider it mission accomplished.

At the same time his 0-6-1 team was practising out at the University of B.C., the Leafs GM was exchanging quips with media members at the luncheon. Good timing.

"It's a great pleasure to be here," Burke said. "In fact. it's great to be anywhere outside of Toronto today. For any of you who follow these things, we've had an absolute horsebleep start to our season."

No one in Toronto would argue that point.

MIKE.ZEISBERGER@SUNMEDIA.CA


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